A New Physics Theory Offers to Explain Consciousness

By: April Carson



For millennia, some have been perplexed by the capacity of the brain to generate awareness. The enigma of consciousness is that each of us has subjectivity, which resembles sensation, feeling, and thinking. We can be aware of our surroundings while others cannot. Even more baffling, we can conceive of things that don't exist in the physical world and be unaware of what's happening right in front of us.


While we are awake, we do not "live in the dark" — we experience the world and ourselves — but compared to being under general anesthesia or in a dreamless deep sleep, while we are awake we do not "live in the light." However, scientists have yet to figure out how the brain generates conscious experiences.


“This is quite a mystery,” Dr. Nir Lahav, a physicist from Bar-Ilan University in Israel, says, “as it appears that our conscious experience cannot originate in the brain and in fact does not originate from any physical process.”


In an attempt to explain this mystery, Lahav and his team have proposed a new theory of consciousness. The theory is based on the mathematics of information theory and offers to explain consciousness as a process of quantum information flow between different parts of the brain.


The conscious experience in our brain, which is as unusual as it sounds, cannot be found or reduced to any neural activity.


“This is the so-called hard problem of consciousness, which has baffled scientists and philosophers for centuries,” Lahav explains.


“Consider it this way,” says Dr. Zakaria Neemeh, a philosopher from the University of Memphis. “When I am happy, my brain creates a unique pattern of intricate neural activity. This neurological pattern will match my conscious sense of happiness exactly, but it is not my genuine feeling. It's simply a neural pattern that represents my happiness. As a result, when a scientist examines my brain and sees this pattern, he should ask me what I feel since the pattern is not the feeling itself; rather, it's merely a representation of it.”


As a result, we can't reduce the conscious experience of what we perceive, feel, and think to specific brain processes. We may only discover links between these encounters.


We have a good understanding of how the brain generates our conscious capabilities after more than a century of neuroscience. So, how can it be that these conscious experiences can't be found in the brain (or elsewhere in the body) or reduced to any neural complex activity?


The hard problem of consciousness is a term used to describe this mystery. It is such a tough issue that until a few years ago, only philosophers addressed it, and even today, while we have made enormous gains in our knowledge of the neuroscientific basis of awareness, we lack an adequate theory that explains what consciousness is and how to fix it.


Dr. Lahav and Dr. Neemeh are two researchers who recently published a new physical theory in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, which suggests solving the hard problem of consciousness in a purely physical manner.


The authors claim that when we consider consciousness to be a relativistic phenomenon, the mystery of consciousness evaporates. The researchers created a theoretical and mathematical framework in the paper to understand consciousness from a relativistic perspective.


“Consciousness should be studied with the same mathematical tools that physicists use for other well-known relativistic phenomena,” says Dr. Lahav, the lead author of the study.


To understand how relativity dissolves the hard problem, think about a different relativistic phenomenon, constant velocity. If you are on a train moving at a constant velocity and I am standing on the platform, then from my perspective, you are not moving. But from your perspective, you are indeed in motion. The reason is that our respective inertial frames of reference—that is, the coordinate systems we each use to measure distance and time intervals—are different. My coordinate system is stationary with respect to the platform, while yours moves along with the train.


Now imagine that instead of a train, the object in motion is your conscious self. In this case, your subjective experience of consciousness would be like being on the train: You would be aware only of your own thoughts and sensations, while the outside world would appear to be moving around you.


This analogy is the basis of a new theory of consciousness. According to the theory, consciousness arises when information from the environment is integrated in a way that is unique to each individual. In other words, consciousness is a by-product of the way our brains process information.


Such a concept has far-reaching implications. It may be used to determine which animal was the first in the evolutionary process to have awareness, when a fetus or infant becomes conscious, which people with consciousness disorders are aware, and whether any AI systems currently have a minimal degree (if any) of consciousness.


The theory was developed by a team of researchers and published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.














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About the Blogger:


April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com


To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav


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